A friend of mine asked me, about 6 months ago, for a list of the top ten things I can’t live without with a new baby. Fortunately I think she’s still actually pregnant. Good thing it takes 9 months!
My answers will not include bouncers, swings, bottles, strollers and all the junk you are told you *have* to have to have a baby. True– I used a swing and bouncer some (mostly for showers and dinner prep), and Azita switched between bottle and breast as I was still in college and pretty much a working/pumping mom. But Ada never used a bottle, maybe once.
Azita hated all bouncers and swings, and Ada tolerated them for 15 minutes at a time, just enough for a shower or quick meal prep. But once her tummy aches and food intolerances kicked in, unforetunately the swing didn’t soothe her at all. I’ve heard of people whose kids adore swings or bouncers and that its a lifesaver. For us, they took up space and money.
So, my top ten list, trying to be devoid of too much commercialism and down to the real, true needs:
Hmm, should I count down? I guess so.
1o. Baby socks of only one color. I swear those girls never wore the same pair twice. I was completely unable to keep up with them. With Ada I wised up and got only the exact same ones, but about ten pairs.
9. Cloth diapers and an open mind to look into Elimination Communication— watching your newborn for little wiggly legs and taking her to the sink, instead of wrapping her up in plastic. Either one will save your wallet and your curbside traffic pick up.
8. A co-sleeper or bedrail to aid in safe co-sleeping (defined as baby in the room, not necessarily in the bed) and the book, the No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley or the Sleep Book by Dr. Sears. Any books by Dr. Sears, actually.
7. Ideas for food that is healthy yet easy to prepare one handed. An example: Chicken thighs and a potato in the oven. Bake for an hour. Have a salad mix ready. You can use tongs for the chicken and never need to wash your hands and there is little clean up or effort on your part. Cut veggies in the fridge are good snacks, especially with hummus or another healthy dip. Keep water handy. Frozen homemade meals, prepared ahead of time, are wonderful if you can swing it.
6. The right mindset. You shouldn’t judge yourself and should remember that a messy house is okay for the time being. It’s okay take care of the important things, like kitchens and bathrooms, and let the other things slide. It’s okay, nay essential, that you put your needs and your baby’s needs ahead of material things.
5. A support system. In our culture, women are often far away from family, and even when family is close, ideas about nursing and baby care and sleeping through the night and all types of things can be, unfortunately, combative and sometimes not helpful. Hopefully, there is another person there to do some laundry and cook some meals. Support found through a La Leche League group, a partner who understands the woman’s job for the first three months is to heal herself and nurse her baby or a friend (who is free to help out around the house) can be wonderful.
4. A copy of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding
3. A baby wrap or sling. Ada was very colicky, though there were underlying reasons for that, as many of you know, and for a while, she would only nap while being worn. And an over-exhausted fussy baby is worse than a fussy one. Also, tt always felt so much safer having her snuggled to my chest than in a carseat or grocery cart. Not to mention wonderful for her developmet and body heat.
Wraps are expensive, and to decommercialize this even more— here’s the secret, they are ridiculously easy to make, and you can make a wrap even without a sewing machine. Or there are several very nice ones available now on websites. I’ve heard very negative things about the business practices of Ergo, a popular choice, but there are many others. I was definitely a wrap and ring sling girl. But for the new mom, wraps have a longer learning curve. Pouches are easiest, and then things like the Beco, Ergo or ring sling. I prefer two shouldered and look up the spinal pressure thing of models like the Baby Bjorn. The others are better options.
3. A basket with a water bottle, book, the TV clicker and some easy to eat snacks. It can be carried around with one arm as new momma shuffles from the couch to the bed, and if baby falls asleep on her and she is too exhausted to get up, she’s got what her body and mind needs with her.
2. A doula. I guess that would be for before baby arrives, but its still on my list. She was invaluable to me and my husband both.
1. The number of an LLL Leader and information on local groups. When Azita was born, I was in tears and pain and felt like I was doing something wrong. A La Leche League Leader came to my hospital room before Azita was 24 hours old and gave me hope that there was a light at the end of the tunnel, now that I was armed with some information about what was normal for a new breastfeeding pair. The nurses were of no help at all and made me feel worse. And yes, the pressure to breastfeed was put there by myself, and no one else, but it was still fiercely important to me, for reasons I couldn’t explain.